Sunday, March 10, 2013
My Book of Life By Angel
Disclaimer: This book is narrated by the main character, Angel, who is a sixteen year old prostitute. If that makes you uncomfortable or perhaps you just don't want to read about it, then please, do not read this review.
Second disclaimer: As far as prostitution goes, there is a lot of implied sex, but mostly the things that are disclosed is that particular client's fetish or desire for what they want Angel to do. It never goes into graphic detail of what's happening to her. It's implied and shows the emotional reaction.
Amazon summary, "When sixteen-year-old Angel meets Call at the mall, he buys her meals and says he loves her, and he gives her some candy that makes her feel like she can fly. Pretty soon she's addicted to his candy, and she moves in with him. As a favor, he asks her to hook up with a couple of friends of his, and then a couple more. Now Angel is stuck working the streets at Hastings and Main, a notorious spot in Vancouver, Canada, where the girls turn tricks until they disappear without a trace, and the authorities don't care. But after her friend Serena disappears, and when Call brings home a girl who is even younger and more vulnerable than her to learn the trade, Angel knows that she and the new girl have got to find a way out." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
This is a heavy book. And by heavy, I mean it weighs on your soul/spirit/thinking being (whatever you like to think of it as).
The style of writing is unique as it appears on the page like a poem/prose but it doesn't seem to read like it. Then again, isn't the harshest live's full of the most poetry? ...okay, a little philosophical there, so let me back up.
This book is about Angel, a girl who was snuck into prostitution at age sixteen. Before that, her mother died and to fill in the hole of her soul, Angel begins to shoplift the display shoe from stores. So she always has one shoe, but never a pair. I think that was great symbolism to show how unbalanced and off-kilter she became after her mother died, but I digress.
So as time goes on, Angel gets caught and brought back home, repeatedly. Her Father develops a, "What do I do with you?" while he's grieving for her mother (his wife). Angel continues to go to the stores and shoplifts but one day Call sees her and calls her out on it. He claims he won't tell if she'll have a meal with him. They get Chinese food together and they begin to see each other more and more at the stores. Soon, Call has given Angel candy (candy is drugs) and Angel returns to her home high on the candy. Her brother Jeremy (11) enjoys her 'sugar high' and they play together a lot before her father returns home and understands what is truly going on in her blood. He demands she leave until she can clean up her act, and then she falls in with Call.
Call begins to give her up to his friends for pleasure before he has her working the streets as a prostitute.
Through Angel, we encounter a handful of other girls who also work the streets and also the clients who purchase their services. Angel has a very powerful voice that carries through the whole book.
This book was very powerful and kind of heart wrenching.
The tender-hearted beware.
I'm unsure if the style of writing worked for me or not. I do enjoy that we got her voice unfiltered, but I think it could have been accomplished with 'normal' writing as well. However, I was taken aback when I came across only a paragraph or a line on a page. It drove the emotional point home.
SLIGHT SPOILERS BUT THINGS I WANT TO SAY: I think the use of the characters, Serena, Widow, the nameless girl of Asia's, and Melli were interesting in their own right. Serena is Angel's friend, but she disappears one day and doesn't turn up in any of her usual spots. However, as the reader, we only see Serena through Angel's memories and never meet her. However, her presence is quite sharp throughout the book. Widow is a prostitute that works on the same street as Angel and I viewed her as the adult version of Angel; what Angel could turn into if she never got out of the business. Widow doesn't remember her real name, or her mother's name, and it's implied that she doesn't remember a life before the one she has right now. Asia is a pimp alongside Call, and at one point Angel meets this nameless girl and the nameless girl seems clueless, as if she hasn't truly experienced a prostitutes world yet. As if she is willfully ignorant to her place and what goes with it. Then there is Melli, who is only 11 years old that Call picked up from a group home. Angel sees Melli as her own angel and tries to shelter her from the business for as long as she can. To preserve innocence I suppose. But once Melli's innocence is truly shattered, we get to see Melli break. Melli used to play solitaire and always lost but never cheated. After her innocence is shattered, she only holds the cards and does not play with them any longer. Melli also does not speak.
The book is full of such intricate symbolism that I'm finding myself stumbling to dilute the meaning. Perhaps that is the book's charm.